This is a record of my exchange between my mother and I when I asked her to install Ubuntu
From: Mark A. Hershberger
Subject: Re: passing fancy
To: Joan Hershberger
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 2008 21:17:55 -0500

Joan Hershberger writes:

> Ubuntu is what? ... oh I see something about printing. That would be
> GREAT if I could communicate from my computer to the printer.

Linux.  Ubuntu is Linux.

When you were asking me before about computer problems, I suggested
trying Ubuntu.  You said you might try it.

I wonder if I can get you to download a cd and try it out.

They even walk you through the entire process of burning a CD.

This would be a really awesome experiment if you could try to do this
before we meet up on Friday and write down your experience.  Try not to
ask Dad for help, but if you feel you need to, go ahead.

All I really want to see is if you can manage to download, burn, and
boot off of the cd.  The CD is a "Live CD" which means that it will run
Ubuntu from the CD without touching your hard drive.  But if you do
decide to install the system on your computer, it can make room for
itself without destroying Windows.

As I said, I'm interested in seeing what you can accomplish on your
own.  I think they've really polished this up so that almost everyone
can use it.  (But then, you may be able to prove me wrong, too.)

From: Joan Hershberger
Subject: will try
To: Mark A. Hershberger
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 15:59:40 -0500

Okay, I will try Ubuntu later on today or early tomorrow.

From: Joan Hershberger
Subject: ubuntu
To: Mark A. Hershberger
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 22:21:22 -0500

First ... I don't know which to download so I am going with the 6.06
LTS desktop edition.

I know I have a laptop ... I guess that is also a desktop, but what is
a server? I don't think that is what I need.

I am now committing my computer to a 80 minute download to burn a CD
on the computer. Such a long download.
Burning CDs is easy confusion.
So that's it for now. I'll see the next step.

From: Joan Hershberger
Subject: download 2
To: Mark A. Hershberger
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 23:20:45 -0500

started the download. It sped along for about 30 - 40 minutes and then
stopped and would not go on. The error message 421 too many Internet
connections open. I could only see the email account was open.
So I closed it all out, did a C-clear and am trying again to download.
I will send this, close out the mail acct. and see what happens.

From: Joan Hershberger
Subject: more ubuntu
To: Mark A. Hershberger
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 05:40:08 -0500

I thought I would look at the instructions before dozing off. ... my
immediate comments.

Someone needs to write the Ubuntu for dummies. The vocabulary is way
out of my league.

I realize that this HowToMD5Sum explanation was written to clarify
things, but I am left with a lot of words and situations of total

All I can figure out is ... you have to have it or you might have problems.
I do not know the importance of insecure mirrors (what is a mirror on
a computer anyway?).
I sort of remember what an algorithm is in math, but in computers?

And a cryptographic hash? From a secure source, (an HTTPS page) of an
organization I trust?

Get real, I have not a clue what I need so how would I begin to know
if any of these organizations are ones I can trust?

From: Joan Hershberger
Subject: burnt disk
To: Mark A. Hershberger
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 05:07:36 -0500

I was feeling pretty good. I DID get a 100% download ... as well as a
couple duds, one was almost downloaded.
I went to bed and left the computer downloading, woke up a few hours
later and it said it was complete.

Then I was told to download an infrareader to burn the CD.
?WHAT! I thought my computer came with a CD burner.
Oh well, so I downloaded the infrareader rather successfully, except I
evidently saved it to some folder that I did not realize, so I had to
do a search to find the thing to use it. Then I had to figure out
which of the programs the SEARCH found I needed to use. Not the
shortcut evidently.
Why not?
Oh well, so I chose the largest file and that opened and I followed
the instructions as per the web page and burnt the CD

Then I was to verify the CD. BUT it said ... if it does not check out
you may have to boot from CD.

The difficulty for me was this ... how do I boot from CD when the
verification turns off my computer.

Oh, it comes up with "do you want to return to your previous web pages?"

The check said it faile MD5 checksum ...
Then I noticed I was to have checked this BEFORE I checked the burning
of the CD.
Okay, I am stopping for now. It is early in the a.m. and I am thinking
it may be a series of rabbit trails to follow and maybe another upload
and check etc.

i will try again later.

From: Mark A. Hershberger
Subject: ubuntu
To: Joan Hershberger
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 10:27:06 -0500

I'm impressed by your progress so far and your comments are spot on.
Mind if I post them to my weblog?

Beyond that, I'm just gonna keep my mouth shut.  This is a great story,
and I want to make sure that what is going on is truly the struggle of a
50-year-old grandmother.

I won't say you are the target market for Ubuntu, but everyone talks
about how "my mother" could or couldn't install Linux.  I have been a
little naive about this, so your experience is a good reality check.

Thanks again for doing this!

From: Joan Hershberger
Subject: ubuntu comments
To: Mark A. Hershberger
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 12:41:14 -0500

Okay to post them ... but as of last week, I am officially 56 (and
your dad is 68 and we have been married 36 years.)

I think I am a bit more computer savvy than the average grandmother
because I do work with several different programs in the office and
have to mentally convert between Apple and Windows between work and
home. At work I have had to work my way through several upgrades.

However, I am still not comfortable with uploading a program to
control the computer from the net. Too many much attention to details
with which I would rather not deal.

From: Joan Hershberger
Subject: ubuntu
To: Mark A. Hershberger
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 22:18:10 -0500

trying again to work on this thing.

Reviewing what I did and may have to re-do I see a couple things.
1. the list of North American sites for downloading. Cute. The web
site says to choose one close by. I do not recognize the location of
most. I can see Georgia, Utah, Michigan or Minnesota, but where is
mirrors? And why do they keep talking about them? Is it better to use
websites with that label? Some of the writing makes it sound like it
is a big advantage.

2. I evidently have a slow uploading connection. IT is always over an
hour. But isn't that faster than the 10 weeks they suggest it might
take to get one via the mail? 10 weeks?! I might be able to figure it
out by then. I have thought about downloading this at work on the
Macintosh, but I am not sure the system administrator at the office
100 miles away would appreciate that.

So now I am going to try and figure out the testing section and see if
I can get the thing to come up.

From: Joan Hershberger
Subject: ubuntu do it again
To: Mark A. Hershberger
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2008 22:44:26 -0500

okay ... it says to check it out by right clicking the ISO file. Just
reading that I have no clue what it means... .the MD5sum or the ubuntu
I will try and figure it out.\
First attempt ... it said the ubuntu did not match numbers.
now what?
How can I right click the ISO file when I don't know what it is?

I read a bit more, something about an ISO recorder. Now, I need to
remember if I have already done that.

I may have to erase everything and start from the beginning to keep
track of where I am. Sigh.

From: Joan Hershberger
Subject: ubuntu ... why don't they?
To: Mark A. Hershberger
Date: Thu, 17 Jan 2008 08:18:11 -0500
Subject: ubuntu … why don't they?

I did not get much accomplished last night with trying to get a good
Ubuntu program. But when I woke up this a.m. I was thinking about it
and wondered ... why don't they have a grandmother website that reads
more like a recipe.

A well written recipe has all the ingredients you need at the beginning.
Before you make a cake, a smart cook looks through her cabinets to
make sure she has everything she needs, she does not get half way into
the recipe and realize, "whoops! I need to have room temperature
butter, and it is frozen in the freezer."

I have been bouncing back and forth between this website and that to
get the program to test the download of ubuntu, downloading a program
to burn a CD, and wondering if there is yet another program I need to
download to make it look like it did on the last screen. (what if I
did not have the Firefox web browser ... would it look like that
picture for the test?)

And why did I have to download a CD burner? Doesn't my computer have
one already? Or is mine incompatible? How would I find out if I really
did not know?

How do I find out what I already have in my cupboard? and then if I
don't have it, how do I download it (go shopping) for the stuff
without picking up more than I really need?

I also found it disconcerting that I could not immediately find the
ubuntu download. It went to disk. What is disk? I do know how to make
a search, so I found it on the C drive (I think, it has been a long

Maybe for beginners, the website should say: here are download links
to everything you will need to get Ubuntu up and running.

first ... make sure you have blank CDs --- these look like little tiny
records, they do not come with your computer, you have to buy them at
Office Depot, Walmart, Radio Shack. (In a recipe this would be "take
out a Large Mixing bowl" and yes, every good recipe spells out the
size of bowls and pans needed. The experienced cook knows how large of
a bowl is needed, but the novice does not.)

1. MP5 thing (a program that checks to make sure the whole thing came)
{and maybe write a note, this will take less than a minute to
2. a CD burner (a program that will save it to a CD.) {Maybe some
people will need more than one, some CDs have problems, some burns do
not work}
3. The Ubuntu download. This will require a minimum of 80 minutes of
uninterrupted time. You need to choose a time when you can download
this and the computer will not be disturbed.

If there are other programs, then I should know that upfront and not
be sent from this website to that website. Have a link at the
beginning and make it easier on the folks who say, "I just want a
computer that does e-mail, pictures, word processing and printing and
maybe I can use to watch a DVD."

Oh, and by the way, I tried to download the ubuntu on our desktop, I
went to bed and when I woke up it was only about 35% complete. I
canceled the download told it to remove whatever was there. So
evidently, something interfered with the download. Why? Would that be
because I was not sitting there and telling the computer to stay
awake, we are still working?

I am still puzzling over the ISO, but maybe I will have time for that
later today. I would like to think that I have everything so I could
fiddle with this stuff in the car when I do not have a computer link.

Is there a place to download all the programs and the simple
instructions and then I can check it all out away from tieing up an
Internet connection?

Say, if someone was trying to get the information at a library or
public access point because they really were going from scratch ...
how would they do that to take it home? 80 minutes is a long time to
be using a public computer.

If we are to download all the programs and not have them on our
computer when we purchase it, then how do we get them and how
accessible are the basics for the novice or the person who simply does
not have access to the Internet, but wants a computer to say, write a
book and work on their digital pictures?

Most people when cooking do not have an explanation of what the baking
soda and baking powder do for the finished product. They simply are
told to put it in. They also are not told 'why' to do the ingredients
in a specific order, but told to do it that way. Actually it does make
a difference, but few people realize that ... until they make a
mistake and the cookies, have all the ingredients but they really do
not look like grandma's.

Too many explanations, especially in computerese, confuses the novice.

The picture of what I was to expect to see helped when I got to one
point, but .. I could not find the program that made it look like

Maybe everything needs to initially be saved to the desktop (sort of
like take out all the ingredients and measuring devices) ... and then
later stored to the C: drive or burned to the CD on Drive D:

I can cook without having all my ingredients out on the counter. I
know what I have and actually have everything in one cupboard where I
can find them. But having taught a few teens how to cook, I realize
that they do not know where to find the stuff, so I have to take it
out for them.

A few ideas from this grandmother who still has not verified that she
has a completed download and perfect burn of the ubuntu program.